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James Bond Jr Online


Marvel Comics (US) #6
by Dan Abnett

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell, Goldfinger, Odd Job.

Synopsis: All's peaceful at Warfield Academy, until a huge explosion rumbles across the campus. It's James and I.Q. who are responsible, having ill-advisedly mixed transium and ranium in Milbanks' chemistry lesson, causing the pair to be confined to the academy over the holiday weekend. Tracy turns up to gloat, boasting that she's off skiing - and delivers a parcel that's just arrived in the post from I.Q.'s Uncle Max in Venice. Max, a chemist, has sent I.Q. a strange stone amulet.

A letter from Max then arrives, which Coach Mitchell delivers, asking I.Q. to bring the artefact to Venice at once and enclosing two tickets for the Orient Express! Mitchell allows them to go on the condition that they're back before Mr Milbanks and Tracy return from their skiing on Monday night. From the bushes of the academy grounds, Odd Job watches the pair with binoculars and chuckles. That night, at Victoria Station, James and I.Q. board the Express, followed by Odd Job.

The following night, as they speed through France, I.Q. reads up on talismanic iconography in the hope that he'll find a clue about the object Max sent him. As James heads for the buffet car, he encounters Odd Job, but quickly knocks him flying with a copy of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. James and I.Q. grab the amulet and head onto the roof of the train as Odd Job breaks through the cabin door and follows them up there. Just as he's about to throw them off the train to their deaths, James thumps him with the book again, and I.Q. touches his hat with the amulet. It suddenly turns to gold, and the weight of it causes Odd Job to topple off the train!

I.Q. explains that the amulet is none other than the legendary Philosopher's Stone - thought mythical, it can turn any ordinary base metal into gold. They arrive in Venice the next day, and visit Uncle Max's house, but he's nowhere to be found. James grabs another trinket as they leave the house, and they hire a boat to head for the police station. But Odd Job chases them in a gondola, right into the gaping mouth of a lion-faced submarine, piloted by none other than Goldfinger.

Holding them captive along with Uncle Max, the crook admits that he faked the letter to lure James and I.Q. to Venice with the stone, and demands they hand it over. James gives Goldfinger the other trinket he picked up from the house, and Goldfinger orders Odd Job to lock them away. Soon enough, Goldfinger realises the deception when the stone doesn't work, and sends Odd Job to fetch the real one - but James whacks him with the book for the third time, while I.Q. touches the submarine wall with the Philosopher's Stone.

The whole submarine turns to solid gold, and sinks to the bottom of the canal, while James, I.Q. and Uncle Max escape in a minisub during the confusion. The crooks also escape, and prepare to fire a heat-guided torpedo at the other minisub. But I.Q. releases some more explosive transium and ranium into the water, blowing up Goldfinger's sub instead. Back at Warfield, a suspicious Milbanks returns from his skiing trip to find James and I.Q. busily doing their homework. James tells him they've been 'as good as gold'.

Review: Magical artefact stories are few and far between in James Bond Jr but, like Lamp of Darkness before it, this one actually works fairly well. The exotic combination of the Orient Express, Venice and the Philosopher's Stone may result in far-fetched fantasy, but at least it's enjoyable at the same time, and would have translated well to the small screen as a TV episode. The regular characters remain very faithful to the TV show - except that I.Q. seems slightly grouchier than usual about being lumbered with a philistine like James for the entire train journey. Meanwhile Odd Job's unseen presence outside Warfield, and his trailing of the teens along the journey, contribute to a real sense of menace, admittedly dampened somewhat by the fact that he's easily defeated on several occasions by being bashed over the head with an Agatha Christie novel. The crook (with a couple of brief exceptions) seems to have been muted again, reverting to previous form in the Goldfinger film and the early TV episode Earthcracker - which is probably welcome, even if his incessant wordless sniggering throughout this story does begin to wear rather thin after a while (see 'Lines to Forget'). Goldfinger himself is characteristically egocentric as usual, and the big reveal that it was him, not Max, who lured I.Q. and James to Venice is quite a clever twist, partly mirroring Dr Derange's similar scheme in The Emerald Key. Overall, while not the best of the seven original comic stories, like all of them it isn't terrible, and ticks all the boxes for a passable yarn.

Highs: The best stories always start with a bang.

Milbanks is still wearing his ski-suit when he arrives back at Warfield. Why?

Lines to Remember: As James prepares to hit Odd Job on the head with 'Murder on the Orient Express' for the third time: 'Agatha, you've helped me twice... now let's make it a hat-trick!'

Lines to Forget: James, to I.Q.: 'Want me to bring you anything back [from the buffet car]? A sandwich? A soft drink? He overhears Odd Job laughing: '... a sniggering Oriental assassin?'

Gadgets & Gizmos: Odd Job's camera spectacles may not be entirely inconspicuous, but they take a very good picture. I.Q. limits himself to explosive chemicals today, meanwhile.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface: The organisation isn't mentioned at all in this instalment. 

Loco Parenthesis: Coach Mitchell's shocking pococurantism as regards his pupils' safety is as apparent in the first of the new comic stories as it was in the TV episodes. He's quite content for James and I.Q. to rush off to Venice unchaperoned to tend to a 'matter of life and death', provided they don't threaten his job security by failing to return before Milbanks does.

Notes: The first original comic book story of the twelve-issue run, this is the first of three new stories to feature Goldfinger and Odd Job. Meanwhile it's not entirely disappointing to note that Trevor Noseworthy is omitted completely here, for the first time in an original story since Catching the Wave. Gordo and Phoebe are also absent.

James also visited Venice in Leonardo da Vinci's Vault, in which another Max - Maximillion Cortex - featured.

Thankfully, neither transium nor ranium are real chemical elements.

The minisubs featured here are similar but not identical in design to Scumlord's in Sure as Eggs is Eggs.

Why does the whole of Odd Job's hat turn to gold when it's presumably only the rim that's made of metal?

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